Tough to have to cut your loss

Last week, I wrote about my upcoming six-week road trip to compete in three bass tournaments south of the border.
My Dad and I got things started at Sturgeon Bay, Wis. in a one-day tournament that took place last Friday. We spent three days practising down there before the event and had some pretty good fishing for those giant Lake Michigan smallmouths this place is famous for.
Although we didn’t catch any six-pound fish, we caught a bunch of five-pounders so that was cool.
Watching the weather the days before the tournament, the forecast was for the wind to blow the day of the event. This is not good at this body of water because it’s so big and open.
Any wind over 25 km/h is going to make the conditions uncomfortable out there because there just isn’t really anywhere to hide.
When Friday morning rolled around, the weather forecasters were right. It was windy, about 20 m.p.h. out of the north, with stronger gusts mixed in. Fortunately, the forecast was for the wind to diminish as the day went on.
We made the rough 12-mile ride down the lake to the area where we had the best pre-fishing. The waves were four-six feet high so we couldn’t go very fast, but we made it to where were wanted to go.
We arrived and I was prepared to start loading the boat with giant smallmouths, but the wind has blown a lot of cold water into the area we were fishing. Water temperatures had dropped significantly, which is what I’m sure changed up what the fish were doing.
We fished a few spots and caught one five-pound smallmouth. But after a while, we had fished all of the areas the wind permitted us to do. So around noon, we decided to try to make the run back to Sturgeon Bay and fish closer to town on some areas that would be somewhat protected.
We made it to the mouth of Little Sturgeon Bay, where we were fishing, and were faced with very large waves—up to eight feet high. If we had a big bag of fish, we could have limped back but it would have been an uncomfortable two-hour ride.
For the first time in my tournament career, we made the decision to cut our losses and head in to the ramp in Little Sturgeon.
We ended up getting a ride to pick up our truck in Sturgeon Bay and got on the road for Alabama a little bit earlier than we had planned.
The main reason for doing this was that I did not want to break anything on my boat because we had to make the 18-hour drive to Alabama and be ready to fish on Sunday morning.
I would not have had any time to repair broken equipment, which would have been a reality in the conditions.
From a safety standpoint, at the time we wanted to run back, it would not have been a good decision in the icy cold water. I have been in rough water on the Great Lake several times and this was as bad as I have seen it, so I think I made the right call.
As it turned out, the wind did eventually calm down a couple of hours later and some of the other teams that were fishing near us were able to get back.
We weren’t the only team to pack it in early and get a ride to our truck, though. Five other teams joined us and did the same thing.
Those of you who know me know how competitive both myself and my dad are, so this wasn’t an easy decision but it was the right one. Sometimes you just have to cut your loss and move on.
We ended up getting to Eufaula, Ala. on Saturday afternoon and I was able to spend the afternoon getting my fishing gear sorted and the boat ready for a new lake.
So far the practice has been mixed; we’ve had some good fishing but plenty of lulls in the action, as well. Hopefully, I can get something solid figured out before the tournament starts tomorrow (May 16).
You can follow it online this weekend at